July 22, 2007
This is a collection of Leo Tolstoy's later short stories and novella's, translated by Louise and Aylmer Maude and published in 1935 by Oxford University Press; the translations were originally published earlier, "Hadji Murad" in 1912, not sure of the rest. Louise and Aylmer Maude are well known English Tolstoy scholars from the early 20th C who wrote a decent biography soon after he died, which is also available on Internet Archive in two volumes:
The contents of "Ivan Ilych and Hadji Murad" are arranged in chronological order:
*The Death of Ivan Ilych (1886)
*Master and Man (1893)
A Talk Among Leisured People (1893)
Walk in the Light While There is Light (1893)
Memoirs of a Madman (1894)
*Hadji Murad (ca. 1896/8, 1901/4)
Fedor Kuzmich (1905)
The three best are marked with a '*' which are "Ivan Ilych", "Master and Man" and "Hadji Murad", which comprise the bulk of the books length. The three short stories after "Master and Man" are somewhat polemic and not too valuable except from a biographical view, and the last story - "Fedor Kuzmich" - is brief and incomplete before he died. The overall translation is excellent, well respected and highly readable with helpful footnotes.
"Hadji Murad" is a masterpiece. Yale professor Harold Bloom considers it the central canonical work of fiction of the 19th century and devotes an entire chapter of "The Western Canon" (1994) to it. At about 160 pages, it's a lot more approachable than the behemoth "War and Peace." Lots of heroism and adventure and the politics of Islam vs Christianity are applicable to the present day.
"Master and Man" is wonderful in the descriptions and will leave a lasting memory - everything normal seems new again. It's the shortest and lightest read of the three, with a lot of foreshadowing and a kind of twist ending.
"Ivan Ilych" is a well known classic that has amazing re-readability, as we age and go through stages of life, so does Ilych and we can plot ourselves along his course. A heavy read but if you have not read it in a while it's well worth a re-visit.
Note: this scan has 4 missing pages, 2 in "Ivan Ilych" (pp. 50-51) and 2 in "Master and Man" (pp. 132-33) - however Project Gutenberg has a plain text version of the same translation so the missing text is available.
Stephen Balbach (07-20-2007, 31)